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Shan Masood to Lead Pakistan in Tests, Shaheen Afridi in T20Is After Babar Azam Steps Down

Pakistan cricket has witnessed a major leadership change as Babar Azam has resigned as the captain of the national team in all formats. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced that Shan Masood will take over the Test captaincy, while Shaheen Afridi will lead the T20I side. The decision comes after Pakistan’s disappointing performance in the World Cup 2023, where they failed to qualify for the semi-finals.

Babar Azam, who was appointed as the captain of Pakistan in 2020, said that it was a difficult decision but he felt it was the right time to step down. He said that he wanted to focus on his batting and contribute to the team as a senior player. He thanked the PCB, the coaches, the players and the fans for their support during his tenure as the captain.

“I have been captaining my team for the last three years and I have never felt pressure,” he said in a statement. “Once we go back to Pakistan … we will see what happens. I have not performed the way I should have in the World Cup, that’s why people are saying that I am under pressure. Over the last two and half or three years, I was the one who was performing for the side and leading the team.”

Babar Azam has featured in 49 Tests and scored 3,772 runs, which includes nine centuries and 26 half-centuries. He has also played 97 ODIs and 66 T20Is, scoring 4,122 and 2,323 runs respectively. He is currently ranked as the No.1 batter in ODIs and No.2 in T20Is by the ICC.

The PCB said that it respected Babar Azam’s decision and continued to support him as a player. PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf said that Babar Azam was one of the best batters Pakistan has ever produced and a role model for the present generation. He said that the PCB wanted him to continue to thrive as a player and without the additional burden of the captaincy, he could focus more on his performances.

“We want to see him grow as a great batter and now without his additional burden of the captaincy, he can focus more on his performances to reach even greater heights. We respect his decision and will continue to back him,” Ashraf said.

The PCB also announced the new captains for the Test and T20I formats, with Shan Masood and Shaheen Afridi taking over the roles. Shan Masood, who is 34 years old, has played 30 Tests and scored 1,597 runs, which includes four centuries and seven half-centuries. He has been appointed as the captain till the end of the ICC World Test Championship 2023-25. His first assignment as the captain will be a three-match Test series against Australia in Australia starting from December 14.

Shaheen Afridi, who is 23 years old, has taken 105 wickets in 27 Tests, 104 wickets in 51 ODIs and 64 wickets in 52 T20Is. He is the first Pakistani to win the Garfield Sobers trophy for the best player of the year in 2022. He has also captained Lahore Qalandars in the PSL and has helped the side win the tournament twice in two years in the 2022 and 2023 editions. He will lead Pakistan in the T20I format and his first assignment as the captain will be the five-match T20I series in New Zealand from January 12 to 21.

The PCB also changed the portfolio of the entire coaching staff, including director of cricket Mickey Arthur. All the coaches will continue to work in the National Cricket Academy, while the PCB will announce the new coaching staff in due course for the upcoming series in Australia and New Zealand.

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